Bio

Dr. Matthew Dal Santo is a historian and writer. Educated at the Universities of Sydney and Cambridge, he received his PhD in ecclesiastical history from the University of Cambridge in 2009. He has been a scholar in residence at the British School at Rome, a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and served as a policy officer with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. From 2014 to 2016, he was a Danish Research Council post-doctoral fellow at the University of Copenhagen, with an interest in the post-Soviet rehabilitation of the reputation of Russia’s last Tsar Nicholas II as an expression of the revival of both Russia’s traditional folk Tsarism and Orthodoxy’s ‘integral’ vision of Church and State. He is the author of Debating the Saints’ Cult in the Age of Gregory the Great (Oxford University Press, 2012) and has written for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The Spectator Australia, The National Interest, American Affairs, and the Lowy Institute for Foreign Policy. His next book, A Tsar’s Life for the People: The Romanovs and the Redemption of Putin’s Russia, will be published by Princeton University Press. Matthew speaks Russian, French, Italian, and Danish. He lives with his wife and daughter in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Project Summary

For seventy years denounced as a "tyrant" and "enemy of the people" in Soviet ideology, Russia's last Tsar Nicholas 11 is today venerated as a saint and passion-bearer; a survey in 2018 even declared him "greatest Russian leader of the twentieth century." What have Russians found to esteem in a man whose name remains in the West a byword for personal ineptitude and a symbol of the inherent incompetence of non-democratically elected rulers? This project uses the rehabilitation of Nicholas and his family as a window from which to view the shifting tectonics of Russian culture since the collapse of Communism, throwing light on the country's search for а new, self-consciously, conservative public philosophy and the nature of its growing "values gap" with the West.